OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The chair of the Oakland City Council’s Public Safety Committee alleged Wednesday that there hasn’t been adequate coordination between the Oakland Police Department and other law enforcement agencies in responding to protests the past two nights.
Councilman Noel Gallo said Oakland police officers, California Highway Patrol officers and Alameda County sheriff’s deputies have all called him to say that they’ve been concerned about their safety during the protests and complain about what he called “a lack of cooperation” between the agencies.
“The cooperation between law enforcement agencies needs to be clear,” Gallo said.
The demonstrators have been protesting a grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9.
Oakland police didn’t respond to a request for comment on Gallo’s allegation about the lack of coordination between the agencies. The CHP and the Alameda County sheriff’s office have helped Oakland police respond to the protests as part of a mutual aid agreement.
Gallo said he asked Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent to brief City Council members about the protests Wednesday because council members have been “left out of the loop” until now.
Gallo said the three law enforcement agencies have now “come together and are organized in what our actions will be” in dealing with future protests but he said “that wasn’t the case the first two nights.”
Oakland police said 43 people were arrested on Monday night and 92 people were arrested on Tuesday night.
On Tuesday night, protesters briefly blocked Interstate Highway 980 and Interstate Highway 580 and also vandalized businesses on Telegraph Avenue.
City Councilman Dan Kalb, who represents North Oakland, said protesters attacked businesses from 34th Street and Telegraph Avenue all the way up to a shopping center at 51st Street and Telegraph.
“Many places were hit by vandals and looters,” Kalb said.
He said he’s talked to many business owners who were affected by the vandalism and he said, “There’s a lot of frustration and disappointment and annoyance that this happened.”
Kalb, who also serves on the Public Safety Committee, said he’s not aware of any problems with Oakland police coordinating with the other law enforcement agencies.
But he said, “It’s bewildering that people who allegedly are protesting against the events in Missouri and other police misconduct are throwing rocks in windows and looting stores.”
“That doesn’t do anything to push forward the message about racial inequities,” Kalb said.
“Most protesters are good people” but he said those who committed violence are “criminal vandals who haven’t earned the right to be called protesters,” he said.
Kalb said police have faced a difficult situation in dealing with the protests because there have been many pockets of fast-moving demonstrators.
He said the violence by some protesters “was planned, not spontaneous” and some people set fires to make it harder for officers to catch them.
Mayor-elect Libby Schaaf, who also serves on the Public Safety Committee, didn’t comment directly on the police response to the protests but said, “The violence and destruction is outrageous and unacceptable.”
“I, too, feel great pain about the grand jury’s verdict and what it represents,” Schaaf said. “It’s further evidence of broken institutions and the need for a lot of healing in our country.”
But, Schaaf said, “Pelting officers with rocks does not serve justice and destroying small business owners’ dreams is not justice.”
She said, “The nature of the crowd compromised officer safety.
It’s beyond frustrating to watch vandals destroy property and vandalize our city.”
Schaaf said some protesters acted so violently toward officers that the police department had to take officer safety into consideration in how it deployed officers.
“It constrained their ability to more pro-actively prevent destruction,” she said.
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